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While everyone else worries about holiday shopping, all I can think about is ghosts. Spooky, cold-breath-on-your-neck ghosts! Madison and her Hand may just have met their match. After all, how do you kill someone who is already dead? Watch for number four in the Hand of Magic series, set for release in January. Stay tuned for updates, and turn on all the lights in the house!
A few days ago, I saw a FB post from our local sandwich shop. They planned on taking sandwiches to the homeless this afternoon and they asked for additional volunteers. I thought, "Sure, why not?" So after lunch today, I filled up a backpack with baggies of dog food and headed to the shop. The shopkeepers are lovely people, and thirty simple sandwiches later, we headed to the underpass of the Jefferson Street Bridge. The sun shone and I patted myself on the back for helping those less fortunate than most.
Today happened to be "shower day." Minutes after we arrived at the empty parking lot, it filled with people and activity. A huge truck pulled up with portable showers. Two young girls, not quite in their teens, assisted their family by ordering strangers around with more skill than a battlefield general. Clean towels, bars of soap, and toothbrushes were handed out to those on the list for hot showers. People appeared from tents, cars, and under tarps. Our sandwiches - and the dog food - vanished in five minutes.
Someone else drove up with donuts and coffee, both of which were gone faster than the sandwiches. Cheese and peanut butter crackers came next and were eaten in a flash. No one took the food or coffee and left with it - everything was consumed right there as if no one wanted to risk waiting an additional five minutes to eat.
I did not see one cellphone. No one asked me my name or introduced themselves to me. No one cared where I worked, what I drove, or whether I voted red or blue. Some people met my eyes, others did not. Everyone was polite. I had thought I would feel good about myself when I left, but instead I felt unsettled. I should have brought more dog food, blankets, something.
Do I do enough to help others? Probably not. The reasons for homelessness go beyond politics, religion, or any simple explanation I can put in writing. I hope my experience today will make me more open to helping others in the future. Maybe tomorrow when you and I go into work and complain about traffic, we can try to be a little kinder to those around us. The distance between myself and the people I helped today is frighteningly short.
In the meantime, I will dress my dog in a ridiculous Halloween costume. I will celebrate peppermint-flavored coffee. I will be grateful that I can do these things, while I work on being better about donating time and money when I can. Thank goodness putting my dog in a dress and donating to people - or animals - are not exclusive. Tell me, how do you work toward making a difference?
You can not go anywhere without seeing them: Halloween costumes and decorations. Candy, masks, and pumpkin candles abound on work-desks, advertisements, and front porches. Since I live out in the country and do not get trick-or-treaters, I am amused by how many items can be turned into ghost shapes and sold with an already-discounted price.
Like so many holidays and celebrations, most of us enjoy a reason to party and eat candy, but do you know the history of Halloween and how it began? Did you know the original Halloween began two thousand years ago?
The first mention of the importance of October 31 to November 1st, is the Celtic festival, Samhain. A time to welcome the harvest and acknowledge entry into the “dark half” of the year, people dressed in animal costumes to ward off evil spirits.
When Rome conquered Celtic territory, they combined the Celtic tradition with the Roman day Feralia, which honored the dead, and their day of honoring Pomona, goddess of fruit and trees. Her symbol was the apple - I wonder if that is where bobbing for apples began?
In the eighth century, the Pope designated November 1st as All Saints Day, and October 31st as All Hallows Eve, attempting to turn a pagan ritual into a church-accepted event.
Halloween almost bit the dust during the early puritanical settlers in America. It was not until the Irish immigrated during the potato famine that the holiday found a new popularity.
Of course, the holiday is now completely commercialized. Children (and adults) have no idea why they are dressing up as Wonder Woman except that they receive candy for their troubles.
It is fascinating to me how our celebrations have both changed and stayed the same over centuries. What other traditions do you know of that originated for a different reason and have adapted over time?
What makes a story frightening? Is the above photo one of a peaceful night in a quiet town, or a crime-scene about to happen?
I have begun work on the next book in my Hand of Magic series, titled "Ghosts." This has brought me to ask myself - what terrifies people? Not as in politics and who is President, or whether you will be able to pay your child's college tuition, but what would you cross the street to avoid? A clown...a cemetery...or maybe just a dark area where the streetlamp has burned out?
Years ago I was with my co-workers in our old office building. As we stood talking in a hallway, we witnessed the doorknob on a closed (and locked) door turn right/left, right/left. Puzzled, we entered the small room, but found it empty. As we returned to the hallway and stared at the re-locked door, the doorknob again turned right/left, right/left. The door itself did not move and a re-check of the office found it to still be empty. All this time later, I have never been able to explain what we witnessed. Here's the interesting thing - I was not frightened as I watched the doorknob move on its own. Maybe because I was with friends and it was the middle of the day, but I did not have any fear of whatever caused the motions.
Contrast that with my donut run a year ago. My favorite 24/hour donut drive-through is one exit from my home, and I frequently hit the drive-through at odd hours. Last winter I headed into work especially early because of an upcoming ice-storm. Other than a truck-stop, the area is rural, with woods behind the shop. Focused on my peppermint coffee and glazed donut, I pulled way from the drive-through and stopped my car behind the building so I could situate my coffee and put away my wallet.
Once I stuffed my wallet into my purse, I glanced around me to make sure I was not blocking any traffic. I realized there was no one around me and I had stopped my car closer to the woods than usual. The single streetlamp lit up my car, but it did not spread to the trees on my right. As I sat in my car, coffee in hand and heater cranked up, I became certain something was wrong. This was not a good place or a good time. From one breath to another, I was inexplicably afraid. Without thought, I took my foot off the brake and gunned it - luckily there were no cars nearby. Once on the road, I laughed at myself and cleaned up my spilled coffee. Of course, it was just my stress with the upcoming storm which had put me on edge, right? I continue to tell myself that, but when I go through the same drive-through after-hours, I do not stop behind the building. Ever.
So as I begin writing my ghost story, tell me what you think makes a scary story - maybe even share a story of your own in the comments below!
Who am I, and what makes my blog different? I believe that animal rescue, as hard as it is, can also be uplifting. Every tale I have ever written has animals as central characters. My goal is to provide practical, positive information for animal lovers, interspersed with helpful tips for writers (and writers-to-be). I will also share updates on upcoming books and my canine family. We all have stories to tell - let's get started!